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Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive metal, with the chemical symbol Th and atomic number 90. It is present in trace quantities in most rock, soil and water. It is also produced by the radioactive decay of uranium. Some minerals such as monazite, thorite and thorianite are rich in thorium and may be mined for this metal. Until the 1950s, thorium dioxide was used as a contrast agent in medical radiology (Thorotrast).

Most thorium compounds are very soluble in water or acid. In contrast, the metal sulfate compounds are moderately water and acid soluble. They can be produced in aqueous or organic solutions, or as metallic nanopowders for use in coatings and sputtering targets.

The sulfate form is also readily ionized in an aqueous solution to produce the monovalent ion, thorium iodide. It is the iodide that is typically added to aqueous solutions to form the radioactive ion, thorium chloride.

Inhalation or ingestion of thorium dust can cause lung and bone cancers. The metal leaves the body through feces and urine, and is deposited in bones where it can remain for many years.

The sulfate form is a common component of the uranium concentrates known as yellow cakes, which are obtained from leach solutions used in the nuclear industry to extract uranium from ore. The sulfate hydrate crystallizes in the Pna21 space group and is coordinated by sulfato ligands that form infinite 1D chains decorated with monodentate and bidentate ions.

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